remember the manager who wouldn’t let her best employee attend her own graduation?

Remember the letter-writer whose best employee quit on the spot because she wouldn’t let her go to her college graduation? The employee — who had grown up in foster care and worked full-time while taking night classes to earn her degree — had worked late/come in early/worked overtime for years to cover for other coworkers, but the manager refused to give her two hours off to attend her graduation ceremony.

Here’s that manager’s opposite (click the image to read the full article):

(Also, we’re not done with updates for today yet! Check back later for a much-anticipated update…)

{ 203 comments… read them below }

    1. Sick of Workplace Bullshit*

      Same! I got super excited for a second, there.
      What an amazing story!

    2. Data Nerd*

      Better, way better. I’m about to go into a meeting and I’m crying my eyes out–my reports are going to be so confused!

    3. Elenna*

      Same! Although Alison did say there’s a much-anticipated update coming, so maybe…

      In any case, good for this manager!

      1. MissM*

        Ooh good point! I’d really like to hear from the 016 LW especially after COVID. Hopefully they woke up after their letter was published, but I really hope for their sake that they did so during the pandemic at the latest

      2. Observer*

        I can’t imagine that we’ll ever get an update. Alison smacked them down, with good reason, and the comment section was a major pile on. Considering the absolute lack of even basic awareness shown by the letter writer, I can’t see them coming back for more.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I honestly don’t care about the letter writer from 2016… I hope that someday that employee runs across this blog, recognizes herself, and comes here to let us know that she is rocking the world in her chosen life

    4. Kes*

      Yeah I won’t lie, really got my hopes up for a moment there.
      This is a lovely story though. And leaves me much happier than the update probably would lol

    5. Cheerfully Polite Grey Rock*

      Same! But now I’m crying happy tears so.. Yay?
      (I’d still love that update though!)

    6. Medusa*

      I had never seen that post until today, and… yikes. That manager was terrible, and also had no compassion. Well, they had compassion for everyone, except the person who needed it the most.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

        And the manager went on the campus tour with him too. Sounds like he’s the manager we all hope to work for – the one who wants the best for all the folks who work with him.

        1. The Original K.*

          The manager taking on a mentor role, particularly since the kid doesn’t have a father in his life, is a beautiful thing.

  1. EPLawyer*

    Oh how beautiful. yes I am crying. No I am not making excuses like its dusty in here or I am cutting onions.

    I hope that other manager sees this and realizes how a GOOD manager SHOULD act.

    1. Public Sector Manager*

      The dust storms just came through the West Coast too. Not a dry eye in my house! Such a great article.

    2. Liz*

      I’m crying too, for the very same reason. With the utter shitshow the last year has been, this story was a breath of fresh air!

    3. MusicWithRocksIn*

      I always categized this manager with the one that wouldn’t give the employee with a leap year birthday the birthday cupcake and day off every year – and that one decided it was the hill to die on when Allison and all the commenters came together in unity against them. Just a total inability to see things from anyone else’s POV or admit they were wrong.

    4. Fran Fine*

      I’m not gonna lie – I cried too while reading this story, lol. My day totally sucked and this was the uplifting story my soul needed.

  2. Czhorat*

    This guy will be successful in life because he has a community looking out for him and has made himself into the kind of person others want to help.

    It’s a great story, on all levels.

    1. SnappinTerrapin*

      I agree. I saw this in the local news on some time ago.

      The manager and coworkers are worthy of respect, but it also stands out to me that this young man had earned their respect with his work ethic.

      He has already overcome some significant challenges to get this far in life. I’m inspired to see his colleagues showing respect to him, and encouraging him to keep building on his success.

    2. Fran Fine*

      has made himself into the kind of person others want to help.

      This is so important because he only had been working there for less than a month! For everyone to go over and beyond for this kid (especially the coworker who wasn’t even working that day and got up off her couch to go get his cap and gown) means that in those few weeks, he must have been a delight to work with. I wouldn’t even do all this for coworkers I’ve known for years.

  3. Sick of Workplace Bullshit*

    Same! I got super excited for a second, there.
    What an amazing story!

    1. bunniferous*

      Many of them are. My husband managed one decades ago. I have worked for a few, also decades ago. It really can be a Waffle House family. I still love them.

      1. Kes*

        Yeah, you know all the stories we read here of toxic workplaces saying ‘we’re like a family!’
        This is a real workplace family. Actually have each other’s backs and will go above and beyond to support each other

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          So much this. This is a workplace that is the best type of family – the ones that build each other up and celebrate successes, whether theirs or a coworkers.

    2. MicroManagered*

      If you can make someone laugh & cry at the same time, you’ve got yourself a good joke, there.

  4. TootsNYC*

    So this is great, but…

    His MOM couldn’t get the day off from her daycare job!!!

    Total aside:

    When he walked out of the bathroom in the dress clothes, “I felt like the president,” he recalled.

    When my son was having his first communion, he tried on a suit at JCP. He wanted a shirt and tie to be tried on under them.
    He posed in the mirror: “I look like a manager!”

    1. SaraV*

      When my youngest BIL got married, my MIL was told she could either have the Saturday off for the wedding shower or the wedding, not both…even thougb they were 6-8 weeks apart. Obviously, she chose the wedding. But, it was weird for me to be the only representative of the groom’s side at the wedding shower.

      And yes, my MIL was in retail at the time.

      1. NotAnotherManager!*

        Same – what kind of terrible employer won’t give a parent/guardian (or sibling or grandparent or someone important in the kids’ life) a few hours or a day off for a once-in-a-lifetime milestone event?

        1. Social Commentator*

          With daycare there are ratios that must be maintained, so it’s possible that if his mom didn’t put her request in early enough, that there were no qualified substitutes available…. but you’d hope that at that point her boss could have stepped in herself.

    2. Observer*

      His MOM couldn’t get the day off from her daycare job!!!

      Yeah. That really hurt! Also, that no one in his school seems to have noticed that he never got his cap and gown or his tickets.

      I’m SO glad that SOMEONE in his life who didn’t “have to” stepped for him. It really must have been so hard for him.

      1. Sometimes Charlotte*

        Or that the school was having the ceremony AN HOUR AWAY and didn’t think this might cause problems for people to get there!!

        1. rachel in nyc*

          Okay so I had to know. It looks like- maybe cuz of covid?- there was one graduation location for the whole district. every school used it just on different days.

          but yeah, i’m not sure why they didn’t provide buses.

          1. SnappinTerrapin*

            Woodlawn isn’t far from Center Point. They are both on the NE side of B’ham.

            I’m guessing the graduation ceremony was held at a downtown Birmingham venue, like Boutwell Auditorium. An hour’s drive wouldn’t be because of the distance, but it could be an hour with heavy traffic, especially when you allow enough time to look for parking.

            1. Drago Cucina*

              Until very recently that’s the way the high schools in my city did it. Neither had an auditorium that could fit more than 200 people. My son’s graduation was outside, at the football field. The bus situation isn’t as easy to figure either. If people already live 16 miles on the east side of the city and the rented auditorium is 10 miles from their home, it’s impractical to expect them to go to the high school to catch the bus.
              Usually there are carpools arranged for students and families needed to get to graduation. COVID put a kink in all of the norms.

          2. Zephy*

            I graduated from high school in 2009, and that’s how my district did it, probably still does it. At that time they basically rented out the convention center downtown for a long weekend and all the high schools had their ceremonies back-to-back-to-back in the same place. No buses.

      2. Daisy-dog*

        I went to a really large high school and our ceremony was very long. I had friends who opted out of the ceremony because of the length. We didn’t even get our diploma at the ceremony either and still had to go to the school the day after anyway.

        1. wanda*

          I worked at a university that was so huge, they used a professional sports stadium across the city for their graduation. Of course that was A) a big public university with thousands of graduates and B) a venue that by design had a lot of both public transportation options and parking.

          1. Artemesia*

            I graduated at a place like that — big state U and we just got a scroll that said ‘if you actually graduated, you will get your diploma in the mail’

            I worked at a private university with far fewer students and we graduated them by name and with diploma in hand — but we also didn’t let anyone walk who was ‘close’ to graduation or hadn’t completed requirements.

            Graduation means a lot more in a family where few have graduated and it represents exceptional hard work to get it done. So glad this kid got to have the experience. And so glad in another story that a teacher pulled off his own shoes and gave them to a kid whom some Karenhallmonitor Teacher was not going to let graduate/walk because his shoes were wrong.

            1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

              I read that story too. Apparently the publicity it got is making the district re-evaluate their dress code requirements for graduation ceremonies so that they are more inclusive for their students.

          2. Observer*

            Also, public universities generally don’t have a facility that can hold all of their students. If you are talking about a school like Brooklyn College, I’m not sure that the school can hold all the graduates at one time in the entire campus, as they have classes for many more hours of the day (and night) than any student take classes. Which means that at any give hour only a portion of the student body is actually on campus. That’s not typical of most high schools.

          3. Drago Cucina*

            It’s one of the reasons I opted not to walk for my grad degree. The ceremony would be with all the undergraduate students of Roll Tide. My husband had the opportunity for a professional conference that same week. We opted to go to San Francisco instead of the heat and hours and hours and hours of graduation.

            My only regret was not ordering my hood and I still think about it periodically.

        2. Drago Cucina*

          My husband went to Brooklyn Tech High School. At the time they had graduation A-F, G-L…..It was spread over four evenings.
          I remember not getting my diploma until I turned in my gown.

    3. SnappinTerrapin*

      My granddaughter graduated last month. She was, understandably, disappointed that I didn’t ask for (unpaid) time off for the ceremony. (It would have cost me two shifts.)

      But I turned down some overtime to visit her the following weekend.

      “Couldn’t” doesn’t necessarily mean the supervisor refused. It could simply have been economically impractical, especially since the young man hadn’t been expecting to be able to attend himself. His mother may not have been able to get off at the last minute, because of coverage issues.

      It’s disappointing that she wasn’t able to be there, but not necessarily a sign of misbehavior on anyone’s part.

  5. Where’s the Orchestra?*

    I saw that article yesterday, and thought of the post Alison referenced. That boss was a jerk – the boss above and the other employees there are the example of the GREAT managers – who build up their employees to let them become the best they can.

    Great Job by that manager, and the coworkers.

    1. Reba*

      Yes! I was planning to share this link in the Friday thread because it’s just such a perfect contrast to that other letter. It is great to see how the WH manager really has their team’s backs, and also recognizes the importance of life outside of work!

  6. H.C.*

    Did the weirdly-rigid manager OP ever provide an update (either in comments or subsequent letter?)

    Or better yet, hoping the employee who quit on the spot encountered that post and gave her two cents too.

    1. Social Commentator*

      She quit. That was the classiest two cents she could give, and didn’t need to waste one more penny of dialogue with that manager!

  7. JustaClarifier*

    I hope that other manager has realized the error of their ways. Good for this guy!

  8. Trixie, the Great and Pedantic*

    This entire article is a good news section and everyone should read it. It’s warmer and fuzzier than an hour of kitten videos.

  9. Ladycrim*

    I’m tearing up. What a wonderful story.

    Also, the original letter from the terrible manager is the one that introduced me to AAM! I’ve been a daily reader since.

  10. RedinSC*

    It’s kinda dusty in here, isn’t it?

    What, I’m not crying YOU”RE CRYING

    Good for them. This is a good manager. Solid coworkers. What a nice story

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Yeah – he’d been there a month, and his manager and his coworkers jumped into action to get him to his high school graduation. That’s the way work should be – the whole group working together to build each other up.

  11. CatCat*

    Above and beyond from manager to fellow employees at the Waffle House to really take care of a colleague. Wonderful!

  12. The Original K.*

    100% tearing up. Seeing the manager help him with his tie and reading in the article that the graduate isn’t in touch with his father is what did it. That’s a small paternal gesture that I bet meant a lot to that kid (on top of having the boss and coworkers rally around him).

    1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      Agreed – I bet he’ll never forget that day – they showed him just how valued he was – and that manager probably shows all of his staff the same thing. Managers get what they give – the way he acted you know he gives those folks his best.

    1. Social Commentator*

      There were so many things wrong with it, from its being their best employee, a not-typically scheduled work day, a lack of acknowledgement that money had probably been spent on regalia for the ceremony, prioritizing another employee’s concert experience above that, even if no money had been spent, and astoundingly, STILL thinking the employee was in the wing after she handed immediate notice.

      Someone else’s comment advice about this young man’s community got me, though. As I recall, this woman had also covered for every other employee at least once, often more, but not one person was willing to change their plans to allow her to go to graduation. How could you possibly want to stay in an organization where literally no one had your back? And how could the manager not see that they were the one who created the ultimatum situation? Why worried she give 2 weeks notice — missing her graduation — if the reason she was quitting was that she wasn’t willing to miss her graduation.

      Sorry to rehash that all. It was one of the first posts I read on here, and my head keeps spinning every time that I think about it.

      1. irene adler*

        I wonder if the now ex-employee will ever know how greatly she is admired by the folks on this site.

          1. Pennyworth*

            I’d love to know that she is still doing well. I’d also love to know if her manager changed her attitude as a result of asking Alison and the AAM community for their take on what happened.

          2. Anna*

            I also think about that post at least once a week, and just really hope that employee has seen the post eventually and knows that she did exactly the right thing!

          3. WellRed*

            The fantasy is that the employee confirms they are indeed the employee in the letter and sends an update as well as a counter update from bad manager who hopefully learned something.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          That has been one of the most haunting AAM letters for me. I often think of that person and hope that they’re doing well.

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      Yep, that and the leap year birthday are the two stuck in my craw. I have hoped that both of those are fake (though I doubt they actually are) because the idea of two people being that tone deaf and oblivious (and being put in charge of people!!!!) just destroys my faith in humanity.

  13. Guacamole Bob*

    I saw this yesterday, and it’s one of those stories that makes me feel simultaneously warm and fuzzy and also depressed and angry. The individuals here are so, so stellar and seeing how they stepped up to help is just wonderful. But his mom couldn’t get time off, his high school held a graduation an hour away without providing transportation, he didn’t have enough support to figure out that he could go to college until he showed up in the news and a community college reached out to offer him a scholarship, and more. The systemic failures are just devastating.

    1. Miss Muffet*

      totally agree. It’s like the story from a few weeks ago that was meant to be heartwarming … the kid didn’t have the appropriate shoes to walk at graduation so a teacher gave him his on the spot…. but why on earth are we having stupid hurdles like that in the first place?!
      I love that there are great people in the community that help kids overcome these things, but there are plenty of kids not getting that for myriad reasons that have nothing to do with how great or deserving they are too.

      1. Social Commentator*

        And even with that one, mom’s commentary was so sad — how he was stumbling over the too-big shoes, and took days to tell her about how and why it happened.

      2. Guacamole Bob*

        Yeah, I keep thinking about all the kids who aren’t planning to go to college but would like to and didn’t end up on the news where they were noticed by someone in a position to help.

      3. Observer*

        but why on earth are we having stupid hurdles like that in the first place?!

        That one was even worse in a way. I may be cynical, but I suspect that I know the reason and it ain’t pretty – not just someone’s over-rigid adherence to the rules.

        1. Fran Fine*

          Just say it: he was black and he was male. Black people, but especially black men, are not given the benefit of the doubt for anything, and many people look at black boys like the ones in this story and consider them inherently criminal/delinquents, so of course he wouldn’t follow the rules and conform to the dress code! Never mind the fact that the kid could have been poor and possibly couldn’t afford expensive dress shoes.

      4. CommanderBanana*

        Yeah, that disgusts me. I remember sitting in the school office right before our graduation rehearsal listening to two of the high school admins/secretaries/WTF they are smugly going on about how “these kids are a day late and a dollar short, showing up late, don’t have the right clothes, etc.” in a low-income school where a LOT of kids worked jobs, had children, or helped support their families. Instead of celebrating that these kids had made it to graduation, these cows were sitting there snarking about the students who were graduating. Absolutely disgusting. I’ve never forgotten it.

    2. Not A Manager*

      I came here to say this. These “heartwarming” stories about people finding a sad story on social media and pitching in to provide medical supplies, or health care costs, or education assistance, *are* heartwarming. But it infuriates me that we don’t have an actual social infrastructure to ensure that EVERYONE who needs medical care can get it, or that a good education is available to all. These things shouldn’t depend on hitting the social media jackpot.

      1. The Original K.*

        Yeah, those stories about how employees give up their leave to colleagues so the colleagues can have medical leave infuriate me, to be honest. I loathe that companies force their employees into that position when they could just give their people paid leave.

      2. SpicySpice*

        I saw a great meme or tweet or something about this. I’m paraphrasing but, it basically said all of these “heartwarming” stories about people saving orphans from the orphan-crushing machine never seem to stop and ask why we have an orphan-crushing machine in the first place.

        1. Lunita*

          This is so true. I saw a story about a young woman who paid off $120k in student loan debt by scrupulously savings working, refinancing for a lower rate, plus all kinds of other things. I applaud her for doing it but I thought, what are we gaining by making this so difficult for people?

      3. Aunt Vixen*

        Yup. Third-grader does a lemonade stand all summer and donates the proceeds to paying off school lunch debts for kids in his class, and somehow the headline is not “Eight-year-old child works for months so that his friends, who are also children, can eat”.

        The kid is a good kid. The world he lives in freakin sucks.

    3. Giddyup*

      This was a takeaway for me as well. When he talked about how new it was to have a path to something–that’s not a thing any kid should have to say! There should be a path for everyone.

    4. Lana Kane*

      This is exactly what is meant when we talk about privilege. What many of us see as basic (guidance for college, clothes for graduation, even being able to go to your own graduation, having treansportation or knowing how to navigate it, etc) are *not* the norm for so many people. Those inequities multiply throughout life and throughout generations and they have an impact.

      The manager is a wonderful human being who should be celebrated. But that celebration should not omit that this never should have happened.

    5. Liza*

      “Simultaneously warm and fuzzy and also depressed and angry” is a good description of my feelings too. (But awww, the warm and fuzzy is very warm and fuzzy!)

      It reminds me of the fence pictures showing the difference between equal treatment (everyone gets the same support), equity (everyone gets the support they need, which is different for different people), and justice (the underlying problem is fixed so people don’t need the support).

      So if we just look at the top layer (ignoring the systemic issues that led to the mom not being able to get time off, the kid not being able to afford college, etc), we could describe this situation as:
      Equal treatment: everybody in the graduating class gets invited to graduation an hour’s drive away
      Equity: everybody in the graduating class gets invited to graduation an hour’s drive away, and transportation is provided for those who need it
      Justice: everybody in the graduating class gets invited to graduation, the rehearsals are held during the school day so kids can attend the rehearsal without missing work, and the graduation ceremony is held at a location everyone can easily get to

      In this situation the school’s graduating class has equal treatment, the kid’s coworkers came together to get him equity, but there’s still a long ways to go.

      1. disconnect*

        “graduation ceremony is held at a location everyone can easily get to”

        1. OyHiOh*

          This is what I don’t understand. You’re a school that accommodates, oh, let’s say 2,000 students across four grades 4 or 5 days a week. You don’t have a single place, anywhere on your campus, where you can accommodate 500 students, plus, oh let’s say 3 family members (meaning, about 2,000 people) for 2 to 3 hours? Nowhere at all? This does not make sense. Limit attendance by giving each graduate a reasonable number of tickets for the amount of space you have on campus, and use the resources you (the school district) are already paying for!

          1. TiffIf*

            My sister’s graduating class from high school was 600+ and allowing for families for all (for example my sister had our parents, our older sister, myself, and our younger sister; who exactly would you leave out for a “reasonable number of tickets”?) couldn’t fit anywhere in the school itself. In my area graduation is early to mid-June–and already too hot and humid to hold outside comfortably. They ended up having it at a local university’s indoor sports arena. It wasn’t all that far in absolute terms (about ten miles) but did require transportation from the county where the school was into the city where the sports arena was–using major highways and crossing a river–in an area that had little public transit coverage.

            With school overcrowding and underfunding it is easy to not have any place on campus appropriate. Its a huge assumption to say hold it on campus. I don’t know any one single place on that campus where the entire student body could be held at once–much less graduates and guests. And while my sister’s school held it somewhere close it still could have presented hurdles for some students as this particular school was in a less affluent area. But it was in a county that had little to no public transit so most people were car reliant for even just basic necessities.

            (A few years after my sister graduated the school built a new large auditorium that could accommodate a much larger number of people.)

        2. Liza*

          Assuming the school has an athletic field or a big auditorium, then yes that would be a perfect spot for it. I’m not sure whether the school in question has those or not.

          1. TiffIf*

            Though there is something to be said for holding a graduation somewhere special and not just the same auditorium you’ve been using for four years.

            But also–with how many schools are overcrowded and underfunded it would be easy to have more people than an auditorium could accommodate.

          2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            Agreed – went to high school in FL, all four high schools in our area shared one athletic stadium located as close as possible to the middle between the four schools. The schools were also given use of the in town convention center for graduations (rent free).

            Sometimes the school just doesn’t have the space to have graduation on campus.

        3. Chilipepper Attitude*

          Someone upthread found the reason, the whole district is using the same location due to COVID.

        4. Daisy-dog*

          Large high schools don’t really have everyone gather in 1 setting. Logistics and other potential issues mean they just keep everyone separated. And outdoor stadiums in the south would be miserable in late May/June.

          Plus, they really do try to accommodate those with extended families. Maybe not in a pandemic (in which case social distancing becomes an issue), but they understand that aunts/uncles/grandparents/managers/other loved ones want to attend.

        5. SnappinTerrapin*

          A lot of high schools share stadiums and auditoriums with each other, on a rotating basis, for sports and for events like graduation.

          Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile are three cities I’m aware of that play most of their high school football at a central location, rather than on campus, and have done so for decades. The larger municipal stadium, spread across the wider tax base, is less burdensome than multiple smaller venues.

    6. Rebecca Stewart*

      I have similar issues with the “overcame their disability” stories.

      Cause the message it sends to the disabled is this. “They did this big thing; why can’t you do a little thing (fold the laundry, do the dishes, make a phone call, etc.)
      That’s….pretty toxic.

    7. EmmaPoet*

      Agreed. The manager and coworkers are lovely people who really pulled together for this young man, but it’s also frustrating that he had to go through this in the first place.

  14. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

    I wish I lived near there just so I could make a special trip to eat at that Waffle House and leave a massive tip.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I went to look up WH in my state and noticed that they post salary bands on their recruitment pages, so turns out the corporation is also doing things right.

  15. KuklaRed*

    I read this story earlier today and had a good sniffle. What a great manager and a great bunch of people!

    I always had a hunch that the original letter Alison is referencing wasn’t real. It just seemed entirely too clueless and inane to be true. But I have been wrong before.

    1. The Original K.*

      Oh, I believe it. I believed it then but with the pandemic and the way some managers have treated their employees, I really believe it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am here to attest to the fact that these types of things DO happen. Even IF this is made up (that would surprise me) I am 200% sure that someone out there found the story to be very relevant to their own experiences.

      There are plenty of nasty, nasty bosses out there, which how Alison’s advice stays relevant/valuable.

  16. Jennifer Strange*

    Not sure when I’ll ever be in Center Point, Alabama, but I’ll make a note to check out their Waffle House!

  17. Social Commentator*

    (Also, we’re not done with updates for today yet! Check back later for a much-anticipated update…)

    Pleeeeease be the leap year birthday!

  18. OhNoYouDidn't*

    I’m not tearing up from reading this, really. It must be that I got mascara in my eyes…..

  19. HungryLawyer*

    This made me ugly cry before my team meeting. Well done to Timothy and the WH crew!

  20. Skyglider*

    Are you going to send that article to the OP who lost his star employee because he was a jerk? :)

  21. A*

    My husband works in college administration and was not given 2 hours off to come in late to go to my master’s degree graduation. His manager said that he couldn’t take the time off, since we were just coming back that day after a 4 day vacation (long weekend, missed 2 days of work).

    That meant that I went to my graduation alone, except for my cohort who I had been in school with for two years. They all had people there. I honestly would have skipped it, had they not been expecting me to show up.

    I have all sorts of terrible feelings to this day around it:
    1. At my husband for not standing up for me and coming.
    2. At his boss who couldn’t endorse an academic achievement, while working in academics.
    3. At his school. He gave a dean’s address each year for close to 20 years. A new, entertaining speech that I would help him write and attended 12 of the graduations to see live.
    4. At myself. From high school onward I dug deep to get a good education. I put myself through a private high school by babysitting 4 kids each evening. I went away to an ivy league college, did a double major and a dual degree program while working every job I could. No one came to my graduation because no one in my family could afford to fly there.

    Graduations can make you notice how alone you are. Employers should get them right.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      If it’s any consolation, my dad chose to bail on seeing me get my masters’ degree, even though the ceremony was about a half hour drive from his office. He was “too busy” that day.

      Don’t worry, though, he did make it out of state to my cousin’s graduation and to his mistress’s son’s high school graduation, so.

      We don’t talk much anymore.

      1. A*

        But you HAVE to go to the mistress’s son’s graduation…SMH!

        Graduations are really fraught. If you are on the margins, it really highlights that. I feel bad for the WH kid. It takes so much to make it and not having family support or example affects your chances significantly.

      2. Kristin in Germany*

        I can’t imagine why. He seems like a lovely man.

        If it’s any consolation, I, a complete stranger a continent away, am truly proud of you and of A! Well done, you two!

      3. allathian*

        Ugh, I’m sorry this happened to you. When I got my Master’s degree at a ceremony where the dress code was formal dress, the auditorium was big enough to seat all the graduates but not any guests. My parents did attend my high school graduation, but it was a tiny school (1 class per grade, so 35 graduates), and there was plenty of room in the gym for guests.

    2. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Dang, that just sucks. No wonder you have terrible feelings about it! BUT…CONGRATULATIONS! You really rock. (hums Pomp and Circumstance)

    3. Cher Horowitz*

      Maybe too late for you to see this but I am tearing up especially at #4 and cheering you after all these years!!!!

  22. Mallory Janis Ian*

    OMG I thought this was going to be a long-hoped-for update to the original story. I think about that one a lot and hope that person is flourishing.

    Good on this manager for doing the kind and right thing! It will be remembered and give the employee a good feeling around it.

  23. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    LOVE this article! Of course, if more workplaces were like that one, at least half the letters to AAM wouldn’t need to be written! ;> This is great all the way around; kudos to the management and staff at that Waffle House – and most of all, to that determined young man!

  24. Observer*

    And this is why I get a little annoyed when everyone makes a big todo about how a workplace should never talk about “being like family”.

    1. Boof*

      I was just thinking this is one of the examples where they actually behave like a (good, supportive) family! Vs the other way where it’s an excuse to trample boundaries for the employer’s benefit (which, I suppose some families are toxic and dysfunctional so I suppose it’s still not incorrect just a bug instead of a feature)

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        Talking about it is a red flag. Behaving decently is an entirely different thing.

    2. Aggretsuko*

      Families aren’t always snuggly-wuggly warm safe places where everyone loves you.

  25. Paralegal Part Deux*

    Is there a boss of the year award for GOOD bosses? We need one. This boss rocks!

    1. Mr. Cajun2core*

      Yes, I agree! Alison, please start a boss of the year award. Even if it is just for this year!

  26. CommanderBanana*

    I still remember that horrible, no good, very bad manager and I hope she/he was able to extricate her/his head from the orifice in which it was apparently lodged.

    1. My Brain Is Exploding*

      I always thought that letter was written by the employee as if she were the manager.

  27. MassMatt*

    How great to have a story where a boss saying “we’re like family here” is actually a GOOD a thing and not something that makes me simultaneously cringe and shout “RUN!”.

    Seeing that young man’s face as he tried on the outfit and had his manager tie his tie for him was priceless.

  28. iglwif*

    I may or may not be crying about this. (Spoiler: I am crying.)
    Happy tears because this young man’s coworkers and manager stepped up to help him and he has support and opportunities that everyone should have.
    Sad tears because his MOTHER couldn’t attend his grad.

  29. Chantel*

    I remember reading about the boss that wouldn’t. I remember even more how satisfying Alison’s response was.

    I hope the young lady (employee) is happy and fulfilled. She absolutely did the right thing by quitting on the spot. That was a bridge *begging* to be burned.

  30. HotSauce*

    I forgot how enraged I felt when I read this originally, reading it again just pulled all of those feelings up. I worked a few jobs like this in the past and managers like that are so utterly clueless as to why they can’t hang onto good people, they often claim things like “kids today just don’t want to work”, or “it’s so hard to find good people” as if it is everyone around them that is terrible & unprofessional. The pay was probably crummy too.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Yes, but how are they defining “good people” here? I presume that’s defined as “cheap and disposable.”
      On a related note, anyone read that NYT article on how Amazon wants to get rid of employees after 3 years?

  31. Mr. Cajun2core*

    I wish I could buy the kid a car so that he could get to and from his community college. I think there may be public transportation but it may still be tough on him. The community college is on the other side of Birmingham from where he went to high school and where he works.

    1. WellRed*

      This is important. He’s got a chance but he’s still gonna need that village to make it through. As do so many kids.

    2. Fran Fine*

      Hopefully he can save enough between now and the fall to afford a little secondhand beater. If not, I hope the school steps in and helps with his transportation needs or even helps set him up with some online courses if he can’t swing the commute.

  32. Forrest Rhodes*

    Tears. Tears dripping off chin and onto keyboard. And I don’t even care.

    I’m bowing in a generally easterly direction to salute Mr. Hampton and his team and young Mr. Harrison, and I wish many blue skies and green lights for them all.

  33. Message in a Bottle*

    Thank goodness for other managers.

    That original manager was quite a piece of work!

  34. the Viking Diva*

    OMG the college stepped up too. I love this! I want to go eat waffles and tip all those people bigly !

  35. Agnes A*

    Umm.. is everyone else here in subscibed to WP and I’m the only one who is unable to read the article and cry from joy?

    1. SnappinTerrapin*

      A link to the original story from the Birmingham News is in moderation.

      Or you could google the names and

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Time for my occasional comment that Washington Post has free subscription for people with .MIL and .GOV email addresses, as well as discounts for people with .EDU addresses or Prime membership. And a subscription can be shared with one other person in your household.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        I’m not sure of the exact business relationship between and the Washington Post, but I see a lot of sharing between the two. It seems to go both ways.

      2. A Person*

        Honestly? I originally subscribed to WaPo because of Carolyn Hax. At a discount at first, and now at full price, because I also like it as a source of news. (And unlike the NYTimes, they hardly ever snark on California.)

  36. Here we go again*

    I hope Waffle House corporate see this story and does something wonderful for this wonderful staff. It wasn’t just the manager it was the whole team coming together to make sure young man could celebrate with people who cared about him.

  37. Sail On, Sailor*

    I saw this story a few days ago. I cried then, and I cried again now. What a wonderful young man! What a wonderful group of people!

  38. Anony-Mouse*

    This made me tear up. So happy for this graduate. What wonderful efforts made by his manager and by the college offering him the scholarship.

  39. Bowserkitty*

    I got misty-eyed reading this one at work. It just kept getting better and better.

  40. Mockingjay*

    Well, now I’m crying (happy tears).

    Thanks for a much-needed dose of kindness and humanity. How wonderful!

  41. LJones*

    This story, about the young man working at Waffle House, and the Manager and Staff getting him to his graduation, literally moved me to tears! I am sitting here in my office with tears streaming down my face. What wonderful people! With all the craziness in the world right now, people like these give you hope! Thank you for sharing his Alison!

  42. Twisted Knickers*

    Who’s slicing onions? The tears are freely flowing. What a heartwarming story.

  43. TardyTardis*

    I remember that letter. That was the reason I subscribed to this column in the first place.

Comments are closed.